Robert LeHunte clears the air on his sudden exit from the Rowley cabinet

Robert LeHunte clears the air on his sudden exit from the Rowley cabinet

 

Robert Le Hunte joined the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley in September of 2017. He came with a wealth of experience being at the top of his profession as an Executive Director of a major global financial institution. His entry into the Cabinet came at the invitation of the Prime Minister and Mr. Le Hunte’s decision and sentiment was that it was time to give back and provide service to his country which had given him so much in his life. He sought to clarify exactly what led to his exit from the Cabinet.

On the 15th of May, 2020, approximately two years and nine months into his tenure as Minister of Public Utilities, he offered his resignation to the Prime Minister on what he considered a principled stance. He said his offer of his resignation was not an ultimatum to the Prime Minister to get his way. Speaking exclusively to IzzSo media, he stressed there is a difference between resigning and offering one’s resignation for consideration, in this case to give the Prime Minister the option as leader of the Cabinet and government to do what he thought was best:

He responded to suggestions that when he offered his resignation to the Prime Minister, it was tantamount to giving the Prime Minster an ultimatum:

When asked if after reflection, he could have approached the issue in a different way. He said it was also his attempt to have further discussion since he did not resign but instead ,he offered his resignation, and also asked for a meeting with the PM to discuss the issue and for more clarification. He is comfortable with how he handled the situation and the eventual outcome:

His resignation came as a shock to many who considered Mr. Le Hunte one of Ministers who performed well and was intent on transforming the public utilities including T&TEC, TSTT and WASA. He was also appointed Vice Chair of the government led Covid-19 Recovery Team, because of his unique skill sets and track record while in the government. Robert LeHunte also indicated that he felt that his offer of resignation also negatively impacted his candidacy for the La Brea constituency in the upcoming general Elections , which he felt he was the front runner before this situation:

Robert Le Hunte also reflected on his relatively short time in the Cabinet and his stint as a politician. He believes that politics gets an unwarranted bad name, because at it’s core, politics is essentially ‘service to people’ , which should not be mistaken for power and political power plays:

The following is the letter delivered to the Prime Minister by Robert Le Hunte

15th May, 2c020

Dr. The Honourable Keith Rowley M.P.
Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Office of the Prime Minister
#15 St. Clair Avenue
St Clair
Port of Spain

My Dear Prime Minister,
Let me first express my understanding of the challenges that T&T is facing both economically and otherwise. I am also aware that it is a particularly difficult time for our country and indeed your good self as we navigate the predicaments of this period, particularly the demands on the Government purse.
When I accepted the position of Minister of Public Utilities, I shared your vision of developing the country and improving the lives of all of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. I felt great pride in being asked to serve and it gave me great satisfaction to serve with you at the helm. Over the past 3 years, I have fulfilled that responsibility with diligence as I continue so to do.
We also both agreed that a critical plank of the vision was to bring a reliable water supply to all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago. I earnestly sought to determine the best way forward because of the significant impact water supply has on the lives of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and I have attempted on numerous occasions to meet and discuss with you my views on this initiative, with limited success.
My interpretation of your last instructions was to work with the IDB on developing a comprehensive plan to bring Trinidad and Tobago to a 24/7 water supply position for all the citizens within the shortest time and to move us away from a dependency on desalinated water. This plan was completed through a lot of hard work done by myself, IDB and the Ministry which led to the note that was laid before Cabinet.
Clearly there appears to be a conflict in policy that led to me being asked to withdraw the note. I accept the Cabinet decision. Nonetheless, in my professional opinion, the subsequent instructions given will not achieve the Government’s stated objectives, and is not in the best interest of the Water Sector or the people of Trinidad and Tobago. I therefore respectfully request further clarification before advising the IDB.
Prime Minister, there are a number of issues that I neither comprehend nor agree with, yet, I fully understand the principle of collective responsibility. Having witnessed first-hand the hardships that a large portion of our population experience on a daily basis due to the absence of a reliable source of water, the provision of water to all citizens in the shortest possible time is something that is now very close to my heart.
It is then left for me to conclude that the instructions given by you without any appropriate discussion, suggest a loss of confidence by you in me.
In these circumstances, I wish to offer my resignation and give you the opportunity to proceed in a manner that allows you to achieve your objectives.
I wish to thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Minister of Public Utilities. God bless you, your family and Trinidad and Tobago.

Sincerely,

Robert Le Hunte

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